Former Ohio University President Charles Ping Dead At 91

Posted on:

< < Back to

ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Former Ohio University President Charles Ping, who oversaw the institution’s rapid expansion in the 1970s through ’90s, died on Tuesday at his home in Athens. He was 91.

Ping, born June 15, 1930, started his career in higher education when he attended Rhodes College. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1951. He received a bachelor of divinity from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and earned his doctorate in philosophy at Duke University in 1961. 

Photo of Charles Ping.
Charles Ping [Ben Siegel | Ohio University]
He served as the acting president of Tusculum College from 1968-1969 before working as the provost at Central Michigan University from 1969-1975.

Ping served as the 18th president of OU from 1975-1994. During his tenure, he helped bring the university out of severe financial troubles. Jack Ellis, who was the chief development officer throughout Ping’s tenure, said that the first capital campaign he undertook was a turning point for the university.

“Our financial situation was so dismal that we didn’t have financial resources to even undertake a campaign. To take on a campaign of that magnitude … if it was not successful, imagine the impact of a failed campaign. It took a lot of courage to undertake something like that,” Ellis said.

Ping established new academic programs during his time, including sports administration, international business and remote sensing. The College of Health Sciences and Professions was established during his tenure as well.

He expanded the university’s international presence, creating programs in Africa, Southeast Asia and Japan.

He worked to renovate different areas of campus during his tenure as well. The Aquatic Center was built, Peden Stadium was enlarged and construction began on the Charles J. Ping Recreation Center, which opened in 1996.

Following his presidency, Ping continued to teach at the university. He also held multiple leadership roles on council boards. 

Ohio University President Hugh Sherman released a statement on Ping’s death.

“As we mourn the loss of Charles Ping, we also celebrate his enormous contributions to Ohio University. In addition to his vision of what Ohio University could become, and his dedication to the humanities, he will be remembered most dearly for who he was – compassionate, loving and respectful of all. He deeply loved our students, his colleagues and our community.”

Ping is survived by his wife, Claire, and their children, Ann and Andrew. Services will be held on July 31 at 2:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Athens. A memorial program will be held on campus later this year.